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tv   Dateline NBC  NBC  October 14, 2011 9:00pm-11:00pm EDT

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you're not doing your breasts any favors. - thank you. - hi. your breasts look amazing. this is a tragedy on top of a tragedy now. >> it happened so quickly. their parents in the backyard spa, their mom in trouble. >> my dad just panicked. >> a sudden slip, a fatal fall? >> you're losing your mother. >> right. >> you're watching her go right in fnt of you. >> right. >> someone else was watching her, too, a curious neighbor just moments before witnessed something astonishing. >> it was scary. the look on his face was almost undescribable. >> what had she seen? was this drowning really an accident? >> she's got a huge gash on her head.
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something like that is not consistent with just sfauling down. >> a husbands and father is suddenly under suspicion. >> he's crying. we're crying. he said, they think i hurt mom. >> three daughters stand by their dad and one prosecutor stands firm. >> he's holding his wife of almost three decades under it the water. my job is to get justice for christy hall. >> was it murder? "someone was watching." also tonight -- she may be the femme fatale to top them all. >> she was pure evil. and everything that she did. >> caught up in a deadly plan. >> no! dear god, no! >> was it a crime or a crazy prank for reality tv? >> the plot was never real. >> the balance add of mike and dalia." good evening. welcome to "dateline."
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i'm lester holt. tonight a story that calls to mind the master of suspense, a plot straight out of an alfred hitchcock film. a young woman peers into her neighbor's yard and sees something for a few seconds. a man, a woman, and a moment that's unsettling. was it some kind of accident, a crime? maybe even a murder? what she saw and what she did would set in motion a chain of events that would divide a family and a jury. here's keith morrison. >> we he know the truth, and we know everything that phappened. >> how do we know what we know? >> it's emotionally unseeing not to have that answer. >> so it is, even if we've seen something. or if we think we have. and that's the question at the heart of the whole puzzle -- is this woman right? >> i know hewhat i saw, and i know the conclusion of my story. >> of course she does.
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of course she does. so why does this other woman think this? >> she didn't know for sure what she saw. >> the question we say on which all the rest will turn. why don't we begin here, cala mesa, california, riverside county, historic missions, sprawling suburbs creeping out to the rim of mountains around the eastern flank of los angeles. here is where chris and christy hall had come to live out their golden years, though they were far from old when it happened. just experienced with life and each other. >> as far as back as i can remember, it's always been chris and christy. there were never thought of as separate. they were a unit. >> these are the three daughters, courtney the oldest a teacher, breanna, a personal trainer, and ashton the youngest here just returned from playing professional volleyball in europe. and all of them, of course, have
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heard scores of times the story of how their parents met. it was 1978. christy had gone to see a relative at the air force basebernardino. quite by chance, while she was there encountered a security guard who, to her at least, looked just like elvis. it was christopher hall, chris to his friends. >> apparently she was a little flirty at the gate. >> in short order, chris and christy got married. she was 17, he 20. and, as the girls grew p up, they said they never doubted for a single moment the powerful bond of love their parents with them it and with each other. >> i'd venture to say we're probably closer with our parents than most children. >> they're the parents that i hope to one day be. >> christy, the vivacious glue of the family, chris her perfect mirror. >> my dad is a little more kick-back, relaxed and quiet, but they were a perfect balance i think.
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>> yeah. >> for years chris hall was a police officer in san bernardino until he was shot in the line of duty. then he went off to become police chief in it two small towns in idaho. then in 2005, anticipating an empty nest and eventual retirement, the halls bought this place in cala mesa which they loved for its backyard pool and spa. and life in the spring of 2007 seemed to have hit a sweet spot as ashton and breanna remember their another telling them. >> we happened to be laying on the bed with her. she just started talking. she's like, i am just so happy that i have you girls and dad. >> it was kind of one of those conversations that you don't have every day. >> still, there was work to be done. it was not a new house, could use some remodeling, particularly the bathroom. courtney was still living with her parents as the work began. >> they're going to be doing the tilework and stuff so we
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wouldn't have a shower for that day. >> so shower out of commission, they decided to wake up early, put on their bathing suits and rinse off in the outdoor spa, before the contractor arrived at 6:45 a.m. it was june 7, 2007. chris got up first, turned on the spa to warm it pup, then called breanna at her college dorm. >> here's your wake-up call. >> back at the house, courtney dozed through her first wake-up. chris and christy made their way out to the spa. just after 7:00, a second call, then headed back to the spa. life's last normal moments. 6:37 a.m. >> i you got up out of bed, i was putting on my robe and i just heard this panicked scream from my dad yelling for me. and i ran down the hallway to the back porch and i saw him just trying to pull out my mom
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out of the spa. >> it was she who dialed 911 as she and her father struggled to lift her mother out of the spa. >> that was the first moments of the worst day of our lives. >> is it possible for people to understands what it's like to be in that situation? >> i don't think soxt to see, just, both your parents in the worst times that you've ever seen them, obviously my mom unconscious and my dad just panicked and for the first time in my life seeing him just that way, not knowing what to do. >> because he was a cop. he was used to dealing with those kinds of things. >> he's a p cop, used to dealing with those kinds of things with people that were not his wife. >> so courtney took charge. after calling 911 she started cpr with her father. firefighter acre nor wood was the first to respond.
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>> he just started, help my wife, oh, my god, heavy my wife. >> chris hall was kneeling at his wife's side, more in the way than anything and so hysterical it was hard for the emts to help. >> it took us a little bit to get him out of the way you. >> he didn't want to leave her. he was holding her hand, yelling her name. >> the paramedics worked on christy for more than 20 minutes, no vital signs. none. >> no words to describe just the fear and the anxiety. >> you're losing your mother. >> right. >> you're watching her go right in front of you. >> we tried to save her together and he with just couldn't. >> the ambulance rushed her off to the hospital where she was declared dead. she had drowned in the family spa. a private family tragedy. except maybe not so private after all. someone was watching. coming up -- >> it was a horrible scream. >> a witness. but to what? what exactly did she see?
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>> i don't know. you know, i -- i -- i can't explain what she's saying she saw. ♪ ♪ [ female announcer ] kleenex brand tissues are america's softest... no wonder people want to share them with the ones they love. ♪ ♪
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on the morning of june 7, 2007, breanna hall was on the road from san diego, driving home from college to what she didn't know except that her elder sister courtney had called and it sounded bad. >> she said there was an accident, you need to just, you know, come home right away. >> it was courtney who eventually broke the fuzz to ashton and breanna. their mother, their father's wife of close to 30 years, was dead. but neither courtney nor chris waited at the house to tell the sisters what happened or to comfort them, nor did they linger over the body at the hospital. they couldn't because father and daughter were escorted to separate squad cars and driven to the police station to talk about the accident. what was that ride like/? >> quiet. i you just remember crying the whole time. i couldn't comfort my father.
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he couldn't comfort me. when we got to the station they said my dad would be a few more minutes. >> chris so frenzied at the scene had calmed down by then. he was a cop among cops after all and he understood he said what was necessary to help them sort out what happened. >> i can't even start to imagine what you're going through, okay? just, it's a death investigation and we have to do this, okay? >> i know that. >> happy to help, he said. whatever would get him back home to comfort his daughters as quickly as possible. >> this is gonna kill them. they were all so close. >> chris told investigators what happened. how, as courtney slept he and cristi were in the spa bathing. >> she got out, went in went to the bathroom, got some more coffee, tried to wake up courtney. courtney didn't wake up. apparently she came back out. >> as cristi returned to the spa
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they passed each other on the patio. he went into the house, stopped by courtney's room to make sure she was awake, then went right back outside, and saw his wife floating facedown in the spa. he called courtney then he said and they began a frantic effort to revive her. i could tell we were losing her. >> from what? a fall? must have been. >> in your gut, tell me what you think p happened. >> i think she slipped in. she slipped or something. i don't know. i -- that's the only thing i can think of. >> but chris apparently hadn't noticed the nasty three-inch laceration on cristi's head. here suddenly the point of the police interview is revealed. >> the gash she has on her head -- >> she's got a gash on her head? >> she's got a huge gash on her head, okay? something like that is not consistent with just falling down. >> not consistent with just falling down? why would the police think that? >> i mean, you've been around for a while. >> sure. i know where you're going.
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and no, there's nothing -- >> why in fact was this ex-police chief being questioned at all about the apparently disastrous accident that killed the love of his life? and the answer was right next door. when chris and cristi hall took their outdoor bath that morning in june, someone was watching. her. >> i got up at 6:00, got my coffee. >> lindsay patterson was on leave from her i.t. job in the navy, visiting her mom who lives just over the backyard wall from the hall house. lindsay was inside in the bathroom that faced away from the hall house and out onto the street when she heard a noise. >> it was a horrible scream. it was just -- something was wrong kind of scream. >> a woman's, she thought? she went outside to tell her mom. i said, did you hear that scream? and she said, yeah, but i think it's just kids playing in the pool. >> kids at six something in the morning?
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lindsay walked over to the six-foot brick wall between their yard and the halls. she stepped on the planter, she said, and looked over the wall. >> at that point i saw a man with his hand -- one hand on top of a woman's head and then one hand on her back. and she was facedown in the water. >> like something was going on? >> yeah. that's what i assumed. >> that is, she thought she was looking at a sex act in progress. >> i don't know why it didn't seem right, but something made me want to look again. >> perhaps 90 seconds she said between her first and second looks, and this time she said she only saw the man in the spa. >> he's leaning back, just relaxed in the hottub. but i don't see her. he's got his elbows back and he's just kind of looking around like nothing. >> where did the woman go? lindsay told her mom something seemed strange. >> she again tells me, lindsay, stop be nosey. don't worry about it.
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but it just didn't seem right. it wasn't enough time for her to have gotten out and gone inside the house. >> so, said lindsay, she went to the wall again. her third and final look. >> at that point he was getting out of the jacuzzi, and he was in a very big rush. she's still nowhere to be seen. the look on his face was almost undescribable. it was almost as if he had just gone into another world. it was scary. >> it was instinct that told her something was wrong, said lindsay. so she called 911. >> 911. state your emergency. >> so now, hours and hours later, the detectives confronted chris with lindsay's story. why, they asked, didn't her story match his? >> so am will i supposed to believe the witness is lying? >> i'm not saying she's lying. i'm just -- she sounded like a truthful kid or whatever.
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but i mean, i don't know. i can't explain what she's saying she saw. >> so now that question we posed as we began, did lindsay patterson really know what she saw? coming up -- >> she didn't see what was really happening. >> what had really happened? there would soon be a turn in the case. >> this was not an accidental drowning. it was purely much more suspicious than that. [ woman on r adio, indistinct ] ♪ bum-bum ♪ ♪ bum-bum bum-bum, bum-bum ♪ - ♪ ai, ai, ai ♪ - ♪ bum-bum ♪ - ♪ bum-bum, bum-bum ♪ - ♪ [ ice rattles rhythmically ] ♪ bum-bum bum-bum, bum-bum ♪ ♪ [ imitates guitar noise ] ♪ [ vocalizing up-tempo heavy metal song ] ♪ [ vocalizing continues ] ♪ [ all singing ] the redesigned 8-passenger pilot. smarter thinking. from honda. we all want our candy in october.
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chris and cristi hall's three daughters clung together in grief and shock all through the dismal evening hours of the worst of all days june 7, 2007, waiting for their father to return from the police station. they wondered, why was it taking so long? then the phone rang, and they had eir answer. >>or you know, broken-up words and he's crying and we're crying. that was when he said, they think i hurt mom. i mean, he was very upset. >> but he didn't sound surprised when he said, they think i hurt mom. >> no. he was crying. >> he was upset. >> very upset. >> but by the time police
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investigators were questioning chris, remember, they had heard from lindsay patterson and at the station chris' version of events in the spa differed in one crucial detail from what lindsay described seeing that first time she peered over the wall and into the halls' backyard. >> that specifically me holding her down in there, there's nothing that took place in that jacuzzi that would explain that. there was no sex. there was no -- i don't even think we had any contact while we were in the jacuzzi, other than when i was getting her out of the jacuzzi. >> but investigators were getting a good look at cristi's body and saw wounds that, to them, suggested a struggle and more than one nasty blow to the head. so the police had to choose which version, chris hall's or lindsay patterson's, was more likely the true story of what happened? tom dove is a senior investigator for the riverside d.a. >> i think they felt there was enough to say, this was not an accidental drowning, it was
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purely much more suspicious than that. >> and so, before the night was over, chris hall was arrested and charged with the murder of his wife. the girls could stop waiting. he wasn't coming home. >> it was obviously a tragedy losing our mother that day, but this is a tragedy on top of a tragedy now. >> because knowing our parents. >> the farthest thing from the truth. >> and one that felt infected by some kind of madness, said the girls. cristi was the love of their father's life, after all, the center of everything for him. how could anyone so happy in his marriage and his life be accused of harming her? and she was happy, too, they said, as happy as she'd ever been. they knew it, they said, based on that mother/daughter talk they had not long before she died. >> she just kept reiterating how happy she was. >> it was kind of odd. >> and me and bree will always cherish that. >> didn't think much of it at
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that time, but that being the last time we actually saw her -- >> kind of burned into your memories. >> yeah. >> but, right or wrong, the legal trigger had been pulled. chris hall spent almost two months in jail until his daughters received the payout from cristi's life insurance policy and used the money to meet his million-dollar bail. and then he went back to what was to be his retirement retreat to prepare, with the help of his daughters, for a murder trial. >> it's very surprising to have a client in a murder trial out on bail, but he was a special man and this was a special occasion. >> these are attorneys who would eventually defend him, though at first they only heard about the case. steve harmon and paul grech. you've said two things there, special man, special situation. >> i think both of us can say this is a man that we like and that we know and we don't feel he could have done anything like this. >> so chris hall and his daughters prepared for a trial which they hoped would make clear to everybody, the police,
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the neighbor, the world, that chris would not, could not, did not harm the love of his life. >> there was never, in 30 years of marriage, one moment of violence. there was no motive for this man to kill his wife. >> harmon and grech had a look at neighbor lindsay patterson's eyewitness account and suggested it it was really not conclusive at all. it was tragically incomplete. >> she saw three snapshots. what is missed by everyone is the wife getting into the jacuzzi, slipping, falling into the jacuzzi, hitting had her head, going unconscious and drowning. >> see this sharp corner sticking out into the spa? hitting her head on this would certainly have opened a gash and knocked cristi out, said the attorney. >> she didn't see what was really happening during the times when she was not looking. >> that scream that made lindsay patterson look over the wall? lindsay, they pointed out, was in a bathroom that faced the street.
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she wasn't in the backyard when she says she heard it. could have been anybody. and courtney, who was inside her own house near the spa, didn't hear a thing. >> we don't think she's lying. just think she misinterpreted what she saw. >> and anyway lindsay, to a certain degree, concedes she didn't know what she was seeing in her glimpses that morning. >> something was wrong. >> and yet you hadn't really seen anything. >> i -- no. but i knew something was wrong. i don't know if in my brain i was putting things together, but from -- between the scream, the position that he was holding her in, and then just not having enough time for her to have gone inside. >> it's like you kind of got three different snapshots. >> right. >> something going on in there. >> right. >> and had to kind of work out what this was. >> yeah. you know, i wasn't thinking at that point, oh, manythis man just murdered his wife. >> but now, based largely on that account, chris hall would
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go on trial for murder. and it was a trial for his daughters, too. >> he loved her. they were each other's best friends, and this is just -- this is not fair to him because he truly loved her more than anyone. >> and yet the prosecutor was going to try to prove that this family man and former cop murdered his wife. could it be done? coming up -- the case begins. evidence is revealed in court. >> when you lose that amount of hair, it's not reasonably explained by any kind of fall. >> and secrets are revealed from the past. >> this man had an uncanny ability to fabricate stories. look at all this stuff for coffee. oh there's tons. french presses, espresso tampers, filters. it can gereally complicated. not nearly as complicated as shipping it, though. i mean shipping is a hassle. not with priority mail flat rate boxes from the postal service. if it fits it ships anywhere in the country for a low flat rate. that is easy. best news i've heard all day! i'm soooo amped!
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a hard-charging man, ex-member in good standing of the san francisco d.a.'s office, now senior deputy d.a. in riverside, that takes skill, persuasive power. strunski would need them in the murder trial of the former police chief and family man chris hall. >> mr. hall on the surface looks like a loving family man. he looks like a good father. he was somebody that had the support of his family. >> so he did. but strunski wasn't buying the
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loving father and family man bit. when with he heard about chris hall's very obvious grief, the wailing that went on after the so-called accident, the phrase that koscrossed his mind was "it's an act". >> i think it was a wonderful performance by the defendant of acting like a grieving husband. but when with you look at his actions, how little he did to help his wife. >> who tried harder to save cristi? not chris, said the prosecutor, but his daughter. >> she called 911. she helped him get the body out of the spa. she is the only one who did chest compressions. he had no interest in truly helping his wife. >> a matter of opinion, of course. but prosecute strun zs ski poked around in chris hall's past as a policeman. and what did he find? >> this man had an uncanny ability to fabricate stories. >> seven years earlier, while hall was chief of police in cass cade, idaho, he was charged and convicted of misuse of public
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money, embezzled $19,000, spent ten months in jail. a white collar crime, hardly murder, but what struck the prosecutor is that he says hall tried to cover it up. to plan a fraud, to lie about it, not just lie about it but lie about it effectively. >> i think that was very telling about who we were dealing with. >> suddenly the prosecutor's prospects were looking better. at the trial, strunsky made lindsay patterson his star witness. 'twas her story that got the whole thing started, after all. but almost as important, he called the riverside county medical examiner who testified that the lacerations on cristi's head could not in his opinion have been the result of a single fall and the m.e. testified that the type of bruising on cristi's face and body was the hallmark of murder. >> it was not consistent with someone slipping and falling and a rescue attempt. >> and there was a clump of hair
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in the bottom of the spa still intwined with a broken plastic hair clip. that, said the prosecutor, could only have come from a violent struggle. >> when you lose that amount of hair, it's not reasonably explained by any type of fall. >> there were minor hiccups in the case. lindsay patterson, for instance was a little inconsistent about how long she looked over the back wall that first time and saw something. but, either way, said the prosecutor, lindsay was sure she saw physical contact. that was the important thing. >> he was given the opportunity to explain any physical contact that could in any way reasonably explain what lindsay patterson missaw. in other words, were they washing each other? were they involved in a sex act? was there anything that she could have misinterpreted? and at the end of the day, you're not just stuck with the fact that lindsay patterson made a mistake, you have to actually believe that lindsay patterson really hallucinated about
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everything she saw. >> and what made lindsay's story all the more convincing, said prosecutor strun60 is she told it before finding out what happened to cristi. she dialed 911 a minute and a half before anyone from the hall house did. before lindsay had any idea how it would end. here's what the jury heard her say in that call. >> i saw him put her under water. >> she was still on the phone with 911 when chris hall came outside and saw his wife's body floating in the spa. called out for courtney. >> investigator tom dove. >> i heard it best described in the trial as a cosmic coincidence that someone could see something that they perceived to be more than some kind of kinky action in the jacuzzi in the morning and that actually turn out to be true, that a woman actually drowned in that spa. that is not a coincidence.
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that is what she saw. >> the prosecution's theory? somehow sitting in the spa that morning chris was overcome by some private fury -- who knows what -- the hidden violence is what strun60 called it. and then killed his spouse when he thought nobody was looking. >> chris hall ambushed his wife, grabbed her by the hair, slammed her head twice into the concrete edge. he's holding his wife of almost three decades under the water showing absolutely no mercy and no remorse. an absolute desire to end her life at that point. >> and then the -- >> he then gets out of the spa, walks into the house where his plan is to wake his 22-year-old daughter, who he can use as an alibi witness. >> one little quibble. why? in fact, as convinced as he was of hall's guilt, strunsky
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conceded the why was a problem. didn't legally have to know, he said, but he just didn't. there it was. >> it's emotionally unsatisfying not to have that answer, not to know the entire narrative of what happened. >> but you want to know why this guy, married to this woman for almost 30 years, apparently happily, would suddenly turn on her and drown her in the pool. >> right. and i'm not sure we got the answers to that specific question. >> kind of an important question, isn't it? manufacture it's an important question and a question we ask in all spousal homicides. >> so proof enough? or reasonable doubt? almost three years after cristi hall's death, a riverside jury would have to decide. coming up -- >> you expected a not guilty verdict? >> oh, yeah you. >> but there was a surprise in store on both sides in and out of the courtroom. >> she was having a little affair, right?
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[ male announcer ] at the safeway pharmacy you can get your flu shot. and you'll get a bonus. you get 10% off your groceries. [ male announcer ] save 10% on your groceries when you get a flu shot. that should make you feel better already. safeway. ingredients for life. chris hall's daughters sat through every miserable minute of their dad's trial for murder here at the courthouse in riverside, california. their review of the prosecutor's
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portrait of their father, it was a lie, they said. >> it's hurtful for us to hear someone basically say that he knew our parents better than we do and he knows our father is a sociopath and that we're blind to it and he knows that there was hidden violence in our parents' marriage and we just didn't see it. you're basically telling us that we didn't know our whole lives were a lie. >> they're just talking. there's no proof of that. >> chris hall had never been violent, argued the defense. had no motive, no reason to suddenly turn on his wife. it had to be a freak accident. so, said the defense, lindsay patterson didn't really know what she saw. in fact, if she'd really witnessed chris hall drowning his wife, why then didn't she clail to see cristi's body in the spa when she looked again? didn't make sense. but the highlight was the hall daughters' testimony, emotional, quite powerful. so it put prosecutor's strunsky
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in a strange position, at odds with the victim's own family. things were so clear. if we had any inkling he had done this, believe me we would have said so. we would have seen that. >> i you thinkthink that's what they truly believe in their hearts. it weighs on my greatly, but my job is to get justice for cristi hall. >> now it was up to a jury to decide. after six days of testimony, two days of deliberation, they couldn't. it was a deadlock. the judge declared a mistrial. chris hall walked outs of court with his family, free. but not quite in the clear. and nothing at all like a victory for the hall daughters. what was it it like to get that hung jury? what did you think then he? >> this tha was tragic. >> that was devastating to us. >> you expected a not guilty verdict? >> oh, yeah. not a doubt. >> deputy d.a. burke strunsky
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was frustrated and determined to retry the case. but first he sent his investigator on a mission to explore the life and marriage of chris hall. and what do you know? in idaho where hall had been a disgraced police chief, the investigator uncovered a startling accusation. >> chris was a great, great con man. >> former los angeles police officer jerry winkle is a county commissioner up in idaho now. but once upon a time he was chris hall's friend. that is, before a night of poker and booze when he said hall made a disturbing revelation, that he he had shot himself in the leg when he was a cop in order to get medical retirement benefits. >> chris had been drinking beer, and he came right out and told me that he had shot himself. >> but there was more. d.a. investigator tom dove had discovered a secret.
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not in chris' past but in cristi's. >> there had been infidelity in the marriage for six years prior, while chris hall was in custody in idaho. >> cristi's affair was relatively brief, years earlier, but she had been in phone contact with the man just days before she died. had chris found out? impossible to know. but when investigator dove talked to cristi's co-workers at the clinic where she was an x-ray technician, several of them said they noticed a sudden change in her usually vibrant personality. one co-worker offered more. >> she told us that she was contemplating a divorce. >> if true -- and it was only an if -- it it might well persuade a jury. but also prosecutor strunsky needed to explain what lindsay patterson saw or didn't see. why didn't she see cristi's drowned body when she peeked over the wall a second time? >> we were not able to explain to the jury why she didn't see cristi at that point.
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and i think that allowed the defense to make the argument that cristi hall was inside. >> the prosecution hired a water expert to do a recreation of the halls' spa. andrea zafaris has been assisting law enforcement nationwide in drowning investigations for the past 20 years. she got in the spa while strunsky videotaped from the spot where lindsay was watching. >> from the center of the pool and towards where lindsay was standing, anywhere i was laying you could not be seen from lindsay's viewpoint. once i sank below the surface and hit the bottom, you could not see me at all from lindsay's viewpoint. >> now the prosecutor was ready. in may 2011, one year after the first jury deadlocked, burke strunsky went back to court armed with his new evidence for a brand new panel of halls' peers. medical experts testified about the injuries to cristi's head and once again heard lindsay's 911 call. >> i saw him put her under water.
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>> cristi's co-workers testified for the prosecution. and jerry winkle traveled from idaho to tell jurors what he thought of chris hall. >> i you was ashamed to admit that he was once a police officer. >> but, if the prosecution had upped its game in the year between the two trials, so had the defense. that's when well-known attorney steve harmon and paul grech entered the scene and they came out swinging. that story about cristi's affair, for example? >> there's a shadow hanging over all of this stuff. very human sort of shadow, which is that she was having a little affair. right? had a boyfriend. >> yes. if the husband knew about it. but the wife never, ever mentions it and tells the husband, no one tells the husband. >> quite right, said the judge, and because there was no evidence that chris knew about his wife's affair, he ruled it out of the trial. and the story about hall
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shooting himself for retirement benefits? >> that was just absolutely a lie. that's wrong. there was never, never any evidence or indication or not even a moment's breath that he shot himself. >> anyway, the story was prejudicial said the judge so he threw that out, too. as for what lindsay patterson says she saw, chris hall holding his wife's head under water, the defense had prepared its own visual demonstration, had taken pictures from her angle at the wall to show that it could look like two people were touching in the spa even if they weren't. >> this is what she described seeing in her testimony. but on the close-up, what do you notice? >> they're not touching but they're in position where they could be. >> but that's different than actually touching. >> again, the hall daughters were there every minute. their father's enduring champions. this time, more family members came to court, two of cristi's
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own siblings testified for chris. >> they said the same thing, we have not a doubt in our minds that this was not a motel of violencevie vie -- moment of violence, this was not a murder. the victim's own sister and own brother. that's an amazing thing to see. >> perhaps it was. but listen to this -- the defense had one more very significant witness. a witness who oozed credibility. the city medical examiner from neighboring san bernardino county who stuck his neck way out to disagree publicly in a court of law with the medical examiner from riverside. >> he found this to be an accidental death, not a homicide. >> this was not some ordinary hired gun. this was a public official who said straight out that cristi's head injuries could, and perhaps should, be explained by an accidental fall. he didn't rule out homicide. >> he didn't rule out homicide, but he said the propond rance of
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the evidence was towards an accidental drowning. what i've always been astand by with this case is that the hall family lived so close to the san bernardino border, if cristi had slipped and fell four or five blocks over, the pathologist in that county would never have filed criminal charges. an accident of geography. >> so now a second jury would have to sort through these two sets of allegations, these two opposing realities, and decide whether chris hall would return and embrace home and his loving daughters or a pair of handcuffs and a life in prison. coming up -- >> things can only go so wrong for so long before something has to actually go right. >> guilty or not guilty? this time the answer from the jurors would be unanimous. and later -- in our second hour, call her the
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unreal housewife of palm beach county. diamonds, flashy sports car, pricey condo. she had it all. but she wanted one thing more. >> you definitely want this? >> positive, like 5,000% sure. >> suddenly, she's at the center of an undercover sting. on trial in a deadly plot -- >> she's like poisoned candy, attractive on the outside but deadly on the inside. >> was it a heinous crime or a half-baked hoax? >> the plot hoped to capture the attention of someone in reality tv. >> a twisted tale of love gone wrong and a wife gone wild. "the ballad of mike and dalia." that's going to relieve the sensitivity. if you are able to get whitening, even better. most dentists that i see do recommend sensodyne. with sensodyne iso-active whitening, it's a blue gel but as soon as it comes in contact with your mouth it's gonna burst into a foam. and
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for the second time, 12 men and women of riverside county, california, filed out of the courtroom. a second jury to make a life decision about chris hall. did he murder his wife? which of the medical examiners should they believe? whose account of the defendant's character? and perhaps, most important, what did lindsay patterson see when with sheshe peeked three times into the halls' backyard? do you ever have those little dark moments of the soul where you think, i may have misinterpreted, misremembered? >> that's something i've thought about every day, whether i misinterpreted, whether i think i saw something that wasn't there. i didn't see everything. >> yeah. >> but i saw you what i saw, and i know the conclusion of my storywhat i saw, and i know the conclusion of my story. i know it. i know it right here. >> of course chris hall's
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daughters say they know what happened, too, in their hearts. >> i think we were the three most critical jurors in that courtroom. believe me, if we had heard anything or had any inkling that our father could have done this, as much as it would hurt him, as much as we love our father, we would want that justice for our mother. >> the jurors deliberated two days, then broke for the long weekend. it was memorial day. halls' daughters felt good. >> things can only go so wrong for so long before something has to actually go right. >> we just did a lot of talking about the future and, you know, this being over, this being finished. honestly, i was concerned about dad and how he was finally going to be able to grieve for the loss of his wife. >> then it was tuesday, 8 ooflt 45 in
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-- 8:45 in the morning. the jury gathered and minutes later, a snool. they were ready. >> chris hall and his daughters rushed to court. and in the end it was very quick. guilty of first-degree murder. their father would not be coming home, probably ever. >> he's being cuffed and potentially put away for life, and, yeah, it hurts, and we are angry about that. >> you can still hear those daughters, accusing you of unfairly convicting their father. >> i can. absolutely. it weighs on me. but at the same time i know who i'm dealing with when it comes to chris hall. in fact, he is the one that's stolen their mother from them. >> it had been a peculiar fact of this case that the victims and defendant it's' families had stood solidly together against the prosecution. but what no one knew was the truth was more complicated.
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after the verdict at chris hall's sentencing a letter was introduced. it was from another of cristi hall's brother, billy carlton, who until now, had said not one public word about the case. we would like to ask his honor for the maximum sentence, wrote billy. the pain that my family has suffered through this tragedy is unforgivable. >> i didn't want to hurt the girl but i had to say what was on my mind. >> there was a deep divide in cristi's family, said billy. some of her relatives believed chris was innocent, but he and he says others, including cristi's uncle steve mundy, silently urged on the prosecutor. >> half the family was convinced he was innocent, and half the family was convinced he wasn't. and that's hard to do when you have a big family and you all have to be together every once in a while. >> when it involves a member as beloved as cristi was. >> exactly you. >> does that explain why this sort of group of people in the family decided to just let
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justice take its course? >> we had talked about it quite a bit. >> i think you so. >> you've got to know when to show up sometimes and when to not show p up. just to keep what's left of the family together as you can have it. >> thank you so much for coming. >> when it was over, paul convict hall convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life, some of cristi's relatives met with prosecutor struns sky and thanked him. >> they wanted me to thank you. thank you for putting the man away because he's a murderer. >> and the hall daughters? having lost their beloved mother, fought to save a father they adored. and, having lost that fight, aren't quite sure what they'll do now. >> it's a devastating reality. it really is. especially for a family that -- to say we were close is an understatement, you know. to go from that to being not
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able to be there with each other is -- it's the greatest hearts ds break that anyone could ever experience i think. >> now our next story. it centers on a couple whose lives appeared to be picture-perfect. flourishing careers, a luxury condo, a baby on the way. then it all kale apart. an investigation would reveal that nothing about this young husband and wife was what it seemed. and the final chapter in this case would take nearly everyone by surprise. here's dennis murphy. >> palm beach county, florida, can be a bad place to live if you suffer from the "i want me some of that"s. the cars, pi laws zoes on the water, a conspicuous consumption index as high as the humidity. >> it's awithin touching distance all of that wealth. >> it is.
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range rovers in front of you and behind you at a spotlight. wonderful, pricey restaurants. luxury hotels. for a person who has a propensity for greed, it is either the perfect place for them to live, as it tickles their greed, or the worst place. >> which brings us to our newlyweds you're about to meet, dalia and mike dippolito. they had big dreams, like any couple young and in love. aspirational at the very least. she had a $20,000 diamond engagement ring, check. he had a porsche in the garage, check. and they lived together in a $250,000 condo, not exactly in the right zip code but a perfectly fine starter place for two up-and-comers. their story for public consumption, the g-rated version, was love at first sight. mike was an internet entrepreneur and dalia the businesswoman he fell head over heels for.
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three months after their first meeting, marriage was inevitable. susan spencer wendell is a reporter for the palm beach post. >> they zinged. they have a connection. >> there was a teency problem in their paradise. mike dippolito was married. lawyers arranged a quickie divorce so the ballad of mike and dalia could begin. >> he fell in love. he thought she was the end all be all. she thought this was it. we'll have a family and grow old together. >> he thought she was the real deal. >> they hit it off right away. they had a lot in common. >> dalia is a real estate agent. >> yes. that's what attracted him to her, she is a successful on her own and didn't need him. that played more into everything that went on. >> are we talking about sexual attraction or is there more going on? >> there's selfual attraction, absolutely. >> with the divorce in hand, mike and dalia dashed to the courthouse to marry.
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and soon fell into comfortable routines. morning workouts at the gym, steamy date nights at five-star hotels and love notes on the fridge. they seem he seemed to be dalia's dream guy. and three months into the marriage she told her husband she was pregnant. michael was thrilled. life was good. but early one morning in august 2009 it all came to an end for the two with a finality as certain as crime scene taped across the condo. dalia was located by the boynton police. >> this is sergeant frank rams. police department. >> is everything okay? >> no. i need to talk you. there's been an incident involving your husband. >> she was instructed to get home right away. when she arrived, she saw police cars out front. everything that spells disaster just ahead. this is a police videotape of dalia getting the news. >> ms. dippolito? >> yes.
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>> i'm the one that called you. sorry to call you. listen, we had a report of a disturbance at your house. >> the officer was direct with dalia. he said there had been an intruder in the house and several shots were fired. >> is your husband michael? okay, i'm sorry to tell you, ma'am, he's been killed. he's okay, ma'am. >> no, dear god, no. >> i want to see him. >> i can't let you see him. we have to do our job. >> michael dippolito, her husband of six months, gunned down in their townhouse. but she would not be allowed to go inside to see the body. >> i need you to go with the detectives, okay? if you want to help your husband, you need to go to the station with these gentlemen and tell us everything you know about who he knows, who he's connected to. >> the homicide investigation was only minutes old when the officers told dalia they'd need her cooperation in understanding what had happened. >> we're going to do everything we can, okay? so we need your help. we need to get could your husband's killer, ma'am.
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>> dalia is whisked off to the police station where she'd soon find out the detectives knew much more about the details of the crime than they were letting on. this case was about to get very complicated. come up -- >> are you sure that you don't know anybody that would want to kill your husband? >> the questions begin. it seems that undercover agents had their eyes and hidden cameras trained on mrs. dippolito. >> hey, what's up? >> when "the ballad of mike and dalia" continues. (male ancr) jennie-o is hitting the road, traveling all across the country win over people everywhere with the burger that's as lean as it is delicious. (woman) the flavor is fantastic. (man) that's turkey? this is amazing! it's juicy. (man #2) it's very surprising, the flavor is really good. (man #3) i think people will love it. (ancr) enjoy your burgers cooked thoroughly to 165 degrees. i gotta get some of these. it's time for a better burger. so get on board and make the switch. look for jennie-o at a store near you and join us at
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dalia dippolito had been called home from the gym to be told by police out front that an intruder had murdered her husband michael. >> is your husband michael? okay, i'm sorry to tell you, ma'am, he's been killed. he's okay, ma'am. >> no, he isn't.
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>> dalia is rushed to the boynton beach police department for the start of interviews. dalia begins by telling the detectives that michael, her deceased husband, wasn't exactly squeaky clean. >> he's been trying to get off probation. >> uh-huh. >> and it's just been nothing but problems the whole time that he's been trying to get off. >> mike dippolito, she said, was a convicted felon, a swindler who had bilked thousands of investors by selling them phony currencies. >> it was for taking money. it was like he he explained it like boiler room kind of where they would take money from people. >> in other words, her murdered husband was a guy with enemies. when he was released from prison after seven months, he was still looking at more than 25 years of probation. he had been ordered to make restitution to the victims he had fleeced an outstanding iou of $191,000. >> people weren't happy that he was getting off probation because it's a lot of money he's got to pay back.
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>> find out who he owed, suggested dalia, and you'll find the killer. the cops listened, but changed the focus of their questioning to the couple themselves. dalia and michael, the newlyweds of six months. >> are you sure that you don't know anybody that would want to kill your husband? you wouldn't want to kill him, i hope? not at all. >> we're fine, like, there's nothing. >> there's no problems between you guys? no financial problems, no -- i mean, with your family? you and him? >> no, there's nothing. i mean, we've, you know, we're going through -- his business has slowed down like anything, you know? >> but the mrooe police officers knew much more that moment. so much more. nonetheless, the grieving widow was taxing their patience. >> okay. the game's over with. okay? there's no more games with you and i. now we're going to get down to serious business. >> the interrogators hadn't let on to dalia that hers wasn't a fresh name to them.
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in fact, this moment inside the police interview room was the culmination of an investigation that was already a-week-old. in what would become just a sensational case and for a brief while as popular as piano playing cats on youtube began when a man walked into the police station here one evening and said he had a strange story to tell. a married lover of his was shopping for a hit man. detective alex moreno didn't know what to make of this walk-in. >> at first when with he's giving you this information you don't know what to think, you know. here is a guy who's claiming he's sleeping with a guy's wife and now she's trying to get somebody to kill him. >> pretty juicy story. >> exactly. >> detective moreno had the tipster run his story down from the top. the man was named mohammed and he said he was a part-time actor who worked at a convenience store. as he told it, he had been friends with benefits with a woman for years. they'd met for the occasional casual sex. then she asked him for help in finding a hit man to kill her husband. >> he says, you know what?
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i'm sleeping with this guy's wife, but, at the same time, i didn't want this guy to be killed. that was his concern. he couldn't sleep with that whole idea that this guy was going to be killed. >> but the detective wondered if he was being sold a cob and bull story since this mohammed guy didn't seem to even know very much about the woman he claimed to be sleeping with. the detective challenged him. >> all the information he had was her first name. he didn't know where she lived, didn't even know who her husband was. >> while they debated whether or not the tipster's story was credible, they knew that a life may be on the line so the detectives took it to the next level. they enlisted mohammed as a confidential informant and gave him a story to tell his part-time lover, that he had found her a hit man who could pull off the job. >> two things could happen. either this guy was lying to us or it was true. we hadn't validated the information yet until he actually makes contact. >> mohammed the tipster set up an as nation with the woman for
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the very next day. the car he drove to the gas station meeting point had been rigged by police detectives with picture and sound. unders cover agents nearby would watch the whole time to find out who this woman was, where she lived, who her husband was, and just what the heck was going on. >> she came down the street, came into the gas station, immediately we pick up the car. not only are we watching her, we're also hearing what's going on in the informant's car. live. >> hey, what's up? i love you, too. >> yeah, you love me, too. >> running down the license plates and registration gave the name of 27-year-old dalia dippolito. the police officers didn't have to wait long until the inform antd's story was confirmed. this woman in the car was definitely in the market for a triggerman. >> less than a minute she talks about hiring a man to kill her husband. >> out of nowhere pf right. which shocked us.
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>> honestly you think it's worth killing him over the money. >> it's not even about the [ bleep ] money. like you know the money. we'll spend it like in the [ bleep ] blink of an eye. >> the meeting was all business. dalia produced photos of her husband for mohammed to hand over to the hit man. >> i brought pictures. >> just give mow one picture. i don't want to carry -- >> dalia brought something else the hit man had requested, cash to buy the gun that would be used. >> i you brought $1,200. he's asking for $1,200? >> yeah. when are you going to give him the money? today. >> she turns the money over. is is thai ail crime, detective, at that moment? we didn't have enough yetment we wanted to go further with the case. >> the police were about to see how determined dalia was to have her new husband killed. coming up -- >> you definitely want to do this? >> i'm positive, like 5,000% sure. >> another undercan cover sting and a plan is set in motion for a deadly house call.
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with the help of a confidential informant, the boynton beach police department had confirmed that a woman named dalia dippolito wanted to hire a hit thanman to kill her husband. it was all caught on tape. >> so the police instructed their informant, a man named mohammed, to set p up another meeting for dalia, this time it would be with a hit man who would be, of course, an undercover boynton beach police detective. same drill again, a meeting place outside a store and a car wired for video and audio. >> in that meeting, they began making plans.
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she also tells our hit man where they live. she provides a schedule where her husband goes and comes and goes in the morning, where he's going to be the next day. >> that shows, what, her state of mind, resolution? >> it shows her intent and the fact that here she is meeting with a complete stranger who she believes is a hit man, she actually goes as far as saying, hey, i'd rather it happened here. >> she just want it's done, the sooner the better. >> does your agent give her a door out at this point? >> yes. he asked her more than once if she was sure if this is what she wanted done. she laughs about it and says, yeah, once i set my mind to do something, i do it. >> the pretend hit man told her he'd use a gun, give him a tap-tap. >> our agent tells him, i'm
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going to put two in his head, meaning twor shots to the head. doesn't even faze her. no remorse. >> dalia and the hit man who's really a cop agree that he will kill her husband in two days. he tells her to be prepared to go to the gym early that morning. >> the night before he calls dalia with further instructions. >> tomorrow morning, you got to be out by six. >> okay. >> he tells had her, hey, i need you out of the house by 6:00 in the morning. which she agrees, doesn't hez he tate, change her mind. none of that. she just says, okay, and that's it. >> the next morning everything is going according to plan. dalia leaves for the gym, undercover cops tailing her. >> one of our sergeants makes a phone call while she's at the gym and we inform her that something happened at her hughes and she needs to get to the house fast. >> she doesn't know details, just knows something has happened, get home quickly. >> yes. and she shows up at the house
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and once again makes contact with our sergeant. and she's informed of had her husband's death, that he's been killed. >> if you look at that video, she he begins to react before she's even told the whole story. >> according to that sergeant who was actually making contact with her, he didn't see know tears. >> when they bring her to the police station, investigators are curious how far dalia will push her scenario, blaming the murder on one of her former husband's enmeese. the detectives are watching her from a nearby room. >> she mentioned how he had enemies, he was on probation. she didn't even bother to ask how it happened. >> to their experienced eyes and ears, dalia is making a few mistakes in how she's telling her theory of the crime. but they want to push her some more, see if they can get her to confess to her murder plot then and there.
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would she be obviously rattled when they led in a familiar face, the person she believes is the hit man? >> the man before her actually the undercover policeman, is presented to dalia here as someone they just nabbed for the killing of her husband. >> i've never seen him. >> the detectives finally put their cards on the table. they tell dalia they know he this is the supposed hit man and that their meeting where they planned to kill her husband was caught on tape. .
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>> rock steady to all appearances, dalia swore up and down she had nothing to do with the denial ofath of her husband. but the police had another surprise for her. truly, a humdinger. they were about to walk a ghost through the doorway of the interview room. coming up -- >> oh, my god. >> someone is back from the grave.
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imagine for a minute you're dalia dippolito. homicide detectives in a police interrogation room are accusing you of plotting your husband's murder. and, just like that, hello! >> oh, my god. >> what? >> come here, please. >> dalia's husband michael dippolito was indeed very much alive. and now, face-to-face with the woman who wanted him dead, his wife of six months. >> i'm thinking in my head, i'm lucky, i'm lucky, but i'm so screwed right now. the worst day in the world. >> before waking up that day, michael dippolito believed he and dalia had begun a loving new chapter together. they were about to start a family. she told him she was pregnant. but he had no idea that the woman he loved wanted him dead. clueless that his new bride had hired a hit man to do the job. his wife was already at the gym when he learned all about it with an early morning knock on
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the door of his townhouse. the police. >> they said, hey, listen, this is what we're doing. we're conducting an investigation. >> he says, your wife is going to have you killed today. you have to come with us. i just looked at him and i'm, like -- i mean, it hit me. >> you don't hear those words every day. >> no. >> the officers told michael he had to come with them right away to the boynton beach police station before his wife came back to the gym. >> grab your stuff, we're out of here. >> yes. >> meanwhile, the police were starting to stage-dress a phony murder scene, all to trick dalia into thinking the hit man she he had hired had successfully lyly completed the job. >> we had a report of a disturbance at your house. >> at the station, the detectives cued up the surveillance videos and showed the husband dalia's two meetings as she hired for a hit man. then the police aallowed michael to watch his wife's realtime police investigation going on in another room. dalia, who had no idea her husband was alive, told her
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police interviewer she had nothing to do with whatever had happened to him, even after they brought in the undercover cop who posed as her hit man. >> i'm watching, just watching, waiting for her to give it up. and you know what? the girl never gave it up. >> dalia is arrested and handcuffed. then the police walk a very much alive michael to the door way of the interview room. >> oh, my god! >> he's alive. >> they say, you know this guy? i'm standing there probably twice the distance from us. >> come here. >> can't. can't fix it. >> why not? i didn't do anything. >> i heard you. >> mike, come here, please! come here. >> that's when she says, come here, i love you, i love you. and i told her, look, i can't. you can't fix this. p. >> now it was michael's turn to tell police his story, warts and all. correcting for the record that love at first sight fairy tale. dalia, she said, was an escort
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who responded to his itch one afternoon while he was at work. he ordered up dalia the way you'd call for pizza. >> was she an escort girl that you made a phone call to and she came over? >> well, i could tell you i didn't meet her in church. >> michael claims even now there was a mutual attraction that went far beyond that initial transaction. >> when i met dalia, we seemed to connect instantly. we hit it off right away. >> so it wasn't just bed. >> no. everything about it. we just clicked, you know, be it our sex life, be it just our spare time, be it the things we liked. all that. it just happened. >> three months after they met, michael divorced his first wife and married dalia that same week. >> i just purchased a home and we're going to start a life together. we talked about traveling and doing things, you know, and we had like a future planned. >> but there was a hitch to michael's future. the terms of his probation prevented him from leaving south florida. so the couple consulted a
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lawyer, and his advice was, pay off that $191,000 you owe in restitution, and you have a fair chance of getting the probation lifted. that was your ticket to freedom. >> pay back the money, yeah, and get my freedom. you know, and dalia said she he would help me with some of the money, about 90,000, and i'm, like, absolutely, let's do it. >> dalia and michael agreed they would pool their money to pay off dippolito's debt. >> this is great, you know. she's pushing me forward, too. i thought, like, okay, i'm going to get off probation. very exciting for me. >> then the plan to get michael out of hock changed again. according to michael, another lawyer said to him, look, you own your townhouse free and clear. why not just turn the title over to dalia, then she can do money things for you, no problem. so michael gave her the deed to the townhouse as well as $100,000 cash, his part of that payback of the restitution debt. the money was supposed to go to his attorney, but it never got there. >> i'll tell you where it
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unraveled. as soon as i got dalia that 100,000 is where it went downhill. >> after dalia got that nice sized chunk of change, michael dippolito said he started to have a string of run-ins with the police, including one night after dinner out with dalia. they left the restaurant to find the police swarming michael's vehicle. after a search, they found cocaine stashed beneath a spare tire. >> i actually started crying to the cop. i said, look, man, i haven't done anything in 5 1/go years. i you said, i don't know how, what p happened. they let me go. i couldn't believe it. >> you would have gone back to prison because you had violated probation. >> yeah, absolutely. >> now, he didn't want to think that the light of his life could be behind something as nefarious as getting him thrown back in prison, but the idea was there. maybe dalia. >> i said to her, you know, only when i'm with you. my life isn't this exciting in 5 1/s2 years on probation i have no run-in with the police. i'm with this girl six months and the whole police department
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knows me. i might as well glow nor fluorescent. 0. >> so you're looking at her sideways. >> i'm doing the best i can to be a good husband. >> no reason to believe she is faking p it with her. >> she may have been a bad actress the day the police stalked to her. >> oscar worthy was dalia playing as an expectant mother. never was a baby, was there? >> never. >> another thing dalia wasn't expecting was the formal charge being filed against her, solicitation to commit first degree murder with a firearm. >> even after her arrest, dalia phoned michael from jail, pleading with her to get her an attorney and claiming the police got it wrong. >> what they're saying is not true. >> you said you wanted me to be killed. how is that not true? >> mike, i didn't do anything. >> she won't give it up. i didn't do it. i you didn't do it.
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why aren't you helping me? you know, i love you. over and over, i'm, like, are you kidding? what do you want me to do? >> you're supposed to get me an attorney soy can talk to you. >> so this is strange. dalia begging the guy she's accused of trying to kill to help her find a lawyer to beat the charge. michael saw the phone call as an opportunity to play "let's make a deal". >> i said, get me my house back, less of all the problem and legal bills abdomen i'll get you a lawyer. listen, sign my property back to me and i'll help you. >> i'm not signing anything. >> i can't help you. >> and because of florida's strong open records law, her jailhouse phone calls and all the police surveillance tapes made by the boynton beach cops would become public. they were out there viral on youtube. >> those images of dalia's boo-hooing online would be seen by thousands of viewers who
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lambasted her in the comments section. but the people with the only opinion that mattered weren't convened on youtube. they were in a west palm beach florida courtroom. what would a jury of her peers make of dalia and michael? comeing up -- the case had heads into court, and out come more secrets. >> it was like something out of a movie. it was unreal. >> and later -- dalia's defense seemed unreal, too. was the whole thing a hoax? >> the plot was never real. mike hoped to capture the attentn of someone in reality tv.
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what started as a tentative police sting operation is now being argued in front of a jury in the west palm beach florida courthouse. 28-year-old dalia dippolito is accused of trying to get her husband killed. in legalese, solicitation to commit murder in the first degree. conviction to get her up to 30 years in prison. lead prosecutor liz parker would introduce a trove of evidence,
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photographs, audio recordings an videos, including that sting in which dalia tells an undercover cop posing as a hit man that she wanted her husband mike dippolito dead asap. >> it was unreal, like something out of a movie. >> dalia had already spent almost two years under house arrest in her mother's home by the time the trial began in april 2011. >> she thought she could get away with having him murdered. >> the prosecutor would paint dalia as a modern version of the da lila who the bible tells us used her sexual wiles to entrap her lover. >> dalia seemed to be very conniving, manipulative. she was pure evil and everything that she did, she played such a good game that people didn't know that was the true dalia. in this case, love was blind, deaf, and dumb.
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>> the jury would hear the prosecution argue that the six-month marriage of michael and dalia was a fraud from the beginning. only the convicted scam artist husband didn't realize that he was the one being completely snookered. >> she made him believe that this was an amazing marriage. he never wanted to believe that his wife, the perishperson he loved more than anything, wanted him killed. >> prosecutors are in the storytelling business, and this case needed a lot of that. the back-story in particular. >> first question that i had was, why? why did she want to have this done? and i knew if i had that question certainly the jury was going to have that question also. >> what is the motivation here? >> greed. she wouldn't have to be married anymore. she would have all of these assets and live a good life without him. >> the delicate bit was to get the jury to feel sorry for michael dippolito. the state's argument went with, sure, he had scammed people for money, but he was still a loving had husband to his bamboozled by
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a conniving wife to the tune of $100,000. >> because he's a convicted felon and it doesn't mean he can't be convicted of a crime. >> and the prosecution put on the husband as their first witness. >> dippolito tried to explain paying back in full the money he owed the victims in the crime. >> dalia said, i'll help you with some of the money. you put up 100, i'll put up 91 91,000. >> but remember dalia never turned over her $91,000 share in the plan. she gave excuses when with michael pressed her, what was up. >> she's coming up with the money. it's happening. i have a closing. i'll replace it with this money. >> that was another part of the deception, house closings. as the prosecution told it, dalia may have a real estate license, but the only home she sold was their condo. all along, mike thought dalia had her own walk away from the table money. he liked her about that. but her bank account told a different story.
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>> she never had $901,000 to give him into begin with. her bank account was very low, in fact, overdrawn most months. >> and the $100,000 cash he gave her went up in smoke. >> she spent much of it on luxury items for herself. >> and all the while mike was trying to be good, reformed, keeping his nose clean with an internet venture, dalia was with running around on him. >> the prosecutor said she was juggling two lovers on the side and was trying to enlist each of them in getting her husband bumped off. >> she's playing all of these guys. they're all thinking they're the one, and the only person she cared about was herself. >> detective alex moreno read back text messages dalia wrote about her husband to her lovers. >> i really hate him and want to see him rot. >> so do i get the picture? she's saying, i'll be there in a moment and in the meanwhile texting her lover, plotting in the other room? >> right. >> just want my life wu let's get this [ bleep ] arrested. >> to the prosecution, her
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scheme was apparent. plant drugs on michael, tip the cops and get him busted back to prison on a parole violation. >> she tries for months to have him arrested. >> you know, i think i've seen this movie and it was a cartoon. this is beep beep the road runner coyote trying endlessly to get beefp-beep and never does it. eludes again and again. >> she did everything she could but didn't succeed. >> but dalia like wooilly coyote before her never gives up. she came up with a new plan of attack. >> i thought of a way to get him to sign over the house. >> remember we said there was an attorney that advised mike to put the condo under his wife's name? turned out he wasn't an attorney, he was a lover playing the part. >> at dalia's direction he said, listen, if you have any assets in your name, you should get them out of your name since you're on probation and you owe so much restitution. sign your house over to your wife. >> give her all your assets. >> the title is then signed solely over to dalia's name.
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>> but dalia soon discovered her ruse to get the house in her name wasn't the perfect plan. she couldn't unload it without him. >> the lawyer who executed the deed for them told both of them that this doesn't change things really because you're married. this doesn't mean you can do anything with the house since it's still a marital asset. michael would have to give you permission to be able to do anything with that house. >> so that wasn't so good for her. >> not so good for her. >> that's the moment, the prosecutor says, that dalia settled on the fatal solution to her money problems. she simply would have michael killed so everything would be hers, no joint signature required. the prosecution's case looked airtight with all those mesmerizing tapes of dalia plotting out a murder, pretending to be unglued as she learned of her husband's murder. but still there was the problem of the victim hadimself. maybe the jury couldn't care less about this michael dippolito about to be put on trial by the defense as a white
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collar criminal and lowlife, all predictable courtroom strategy. what no one would have priblgted, though, is the other line that the defense took. jurors, you've got it all wrong. this wasn't a crime. this was a cockamamy audition for a reality show. dalia as the white house party crasher crashers, michael as balloon boy. the people versus "the jersey shore" was about to begin. coming up -- >> mike dippolito's hoax to orchestrate his own murder to achieve fame and fortune was a bad prank. >> murder for hire or audition for television? a cliff-hanger of an p hehe i you sewed is coming up. and next friday on "dateline" -- deadly retreat. he's a charismatic teacher behind "the secret" and they were spiritual adventurers with him in the desert. then chaos. >> she's not moving. she's not breathing.
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>> three lost their lives. >> three people are dead because of the conduct of this man. >> did this self-help leader lead them to their deaths? >> the defense argues that there was something more that caused them to die. >> now a jury decides. >> everybody's like on pin my "me time" is when i thought i parked on level 2. or maybe 8? my "me time" is when there's a 10% chance of rain! [ cellphone rings ] my "me time" is when he doesn't get the hint. ♪ ♪ my me time... [ bang ] is when everybody's takin' shots at me. [ male announcer ] discover you time anytime. mccafé your day with a mcdonald's frappé. smooth and icy caramel or mocha blended just for you and topped with a decadent drizzle. "me time"!
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so there's the defendant, your client, and the prosecution has shown the jury surveillance police video of her, she thinks, hiring a hit man to kill her husband. you're her lawyer.
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what do you do? you fight video with video spin. bring on the snooki envy defense. >> you live in a world where people seeking their 15 minutes of fame lose all sense of judgment and commonsense. >> dalia's defense attorney michael salmilk says the husband michael dippolito was a reality show wannabe, that he was behind the fake murder, masterminding it just so he could be known beyond boynton beach. >> mike dippolito's hoax to orchestrate his own many murder to achieve fame and fortune was a bad prank. it was never anyone's intention to harm anyone. >> did the balloon boy family hoaxers mean ill will? did the white house party crashers have malicious intent? no, claimed the defense, and neither did the dippolitos. it was just a dumb idea. >> the evidence will show that the plot for the contract
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killing of mike dippolito was never real he. mike dippolito hoped to capture the attention of someone in reality tv. >> the defense attorney argued that dalia was in on the reality show idea the whole time. that scene out front of dalia wailing, acting, says the defense. >> dalia knew mike wasn't harmed and hers is a fake reaction to a fake event. >> the defense put on a forensic expert to testify that the couple's computers revealed searches for reality show casting calls in the weeks before she met with that hit man who wasn't. >> there were google searches were done, one was for castings, reality tv in florida. >> another witness with, a professor who wrote a thesis on reality tv, chimed in that for some people the idea of instant celebrity is so intoxicating that they do almost anything to get on one of those shows. auditioning is one way. >> another way is to try to do
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something really kind of crazy to try to get noticed and become famous to try to then get on reality television. >> the defense pushed michael dippolito hard on cross-examination, accusing him of dragging dalia's down with this stupid idea of being a tv star. >> this whole reality thing was actually orchestrated by you, wasn't it? >> i don't know what you're talking about. the silliest thing i've ever heard. i mean, completely made-p up. >> you two never talked about becoming the balloon boy couple or the white house crashers or becoming famous in your time? >> not at all. i don't think they could bring the cameras into prison if i landed myself in there. so i didn't have those in my playbook. >> and if the jury needed more from the defense on michael dippolito's character, the lawyer threw in his rap sheet. fraudster, prison, a guy who owed $191,000 to his victims but before paying them back he bought himself a portia and a
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$230,000 condo. >> you had to keep telling the people the investment just wasn't coming in, is that correct? >> yes. >> and in fact the money was going in your pocket, wasn't it? >> yes. >> you're being portrayed as level luther, master criminal, right? >> master criminal, the worst person in the world. >> how did you take it? >> it wasn't easy, but i wasn't going to let him rile me up. >> closing arguments, the defense said it all came down tolt had husband and his appetite for fame. the defendant he said was the true victim here. >> you can't scam a scammer. and mike is a convicted felon scam artist. that's his talent. >> in her close, the prosecutor tugged it all back to what she saw as the bedrock as the case. the murder for hire plot was very real and dalia dippolito was the one calling the shots. she's shameless about the way she uses her sexual power to get what she wants. she's like poison candy, attractive on the outside but deadly on the inside. >> now it was up to the
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six-member jury to decide the fate of dalia dippolito. >> all right. let's bring in the jury please. >> and in less than three hours, there was a verdict. >> we find the defendant guilty. >> dalia dippolito guilty as charged. stone-faced, she was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs, facing up to 30 years in prison. >> if she had not hired the boynton beach police department to kill her husband, was it your belief that ultimately she would have gotten him? >> i think she would have done everything in her power to make sure her husband would be murdered, absolutely. she'd be looking at the death penalty, first-degree murder. >> dalia, without her makeup, dressed in jailhouse blues was back fwh court a month later for her sentencing. her mother pleaded with the judge to show leniency. >> in life, we make mistakes. dalia is not dangerous. >> but mike dippolito would have his turn, too. dalia, he said, had never showed remorse, never even admitted that she tried to have him killed. >> if she would have owned it
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like a normal person and owned up to something, i would respect that. but instead when i get to court i hear that i want a reality television show? you should have just said space aliens landed and they did it. that would have been a better defense. >> in the end, the judge sentenced her to 20 years and gave dalia a piece of his mind before sending her behind bars. >> it was weeks and months that you continued with these different schemes to try to rid yourself of your husband. it was pure evil. >> outside the courtroom, mike was swarmed by reporters, asked if he felt the sentence was the right one. he gave an answer that sounded familiar. >> i'm 5,000% happy with it. >> but, even when it seemed over for mike and dalia, it wasn't. strange as it may seem, while michael had filed for divorce soon after dalia's arrest, the couple were still married at the time of dalia's sentencing. the snag in the divorce settlement was real estate and money. michael wanted the title to his
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condo and his $100,000 back from dalia. the money he gave her to pay his share of the restitution. >> that's the funny thing. they didn't sentence my ex-wife. they sentenced my wife. >> michael did event gi get his divorce along with the clear title to his condo. dalia's legal team meanwhile has filed a notice to appeal the criminal. the issue? mohammed who provided video testimony at trial because he told authorities he'd be out of the country was actually in town during the trial and could and should have taken the stand. his version of events subject to live cross-examination in front of the jury. and in a move that surprised some, just three months after her sentencing, the judge who called dalia pure evil allowed her to post a $500,000 bond. dalia was released from jail and placed under house arrest in her mother's home pending an appeal. she and her attorney declined to comment on the case at this time due you to pending legal proceedings.
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she is living just two miles away from her ex-husband. were you able ever to step out and look down at your situation and say, i can't believe this is happening to me? >> i do it every day. i still do it. >> a starry-eyed mike dippolito once thought his marriage would be one for the ages. >> please, no! >> it turned out to be one for youtube. ♪ i love the way you lie ♪ >> that's all for this edition of "dateline." we'll be back again next friday at 9:00/8:00 central. i'm lester holt. for all of us us at nbc news, good night. -- captions by vitac -- [ female announcer ] having grands! biscuits in the morning is easy. just pop 'em in... then go about your business... and in just 15 minutes your family can enjoy warm fresh from the oven biscuits. grands! warm ideas made easy.


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